On May 23rd, 2019, District 4 Supervisor Lloyd Pareira returned a Merced Fire Department badge from 1916 to the great-grandson of the owner, volunteer Fireman Frank L. Freitas.
The badge was found inside of a shop at a home in Merced Falls. The individual who found the badge is friends with Supervisor Pareira and turned the badge over to him in hopes of finding and returning it to the family.
Although the back of the badge was inscribed with a date (May 12, 1916) and a name (Frank R. Freetas), locating the family of the firefighter wasn’t as easy as expected, the last name and middle initial of the individual was misspelled.
However, Sarah Lim, Director of the Merced County Courthouse Museum, was able to go through archived minutes from the Merced City Fire Department.
At that time there was no County Fire Department said Sarah. By going through the minutes, city directories and old photos, Sarah was able to determine that the name was misspelled and the original owner was a relative of Kory Billings, a local realtor and member of the Playhouse Merced Board of Directors.
The badge was returned to Kory and his family during a ceremony in the Board of Supervisors Chambers yesterday.
Also in attendance were representatives from the Merced County Fire Department, Merced City Fire Department, Merced County Supervisors and staff, and staff from Merced City.
Merced County would like to thank Kory Billings, his family, and everyone who attended yesterday’s event.
A big “thank you” to Sarah Lim for researching the history of the badge and helping to return it to the rightful owner.